COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in all of our lives, disrupting our normal way of living. Many of you may have been laid off, or have severely reduced work hours as a result, yet you still have to maintain your homes and feed your families. One of the basic necessities that will continue is food.

I want to share ways to keep your grocery bill down during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Plan your meals ahead

Create a weekly family menu. Start with what you already have in your refrigerator and cabinets and figure out what extra ingredients you need.

2. Stick with your favorites

Stick with basic meals, nothing fancy. This may not be a great time to experiment with new exotic recipes that your family may or may not like.

3. Create a shopping list

Before you’re ready to go grocery shopping, create a grocery list, and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to splurge.

4. Use coupons

Check your Sunday newspapers to get started. You can also go online to access digital coupons. You can print the ones you want to use to take with you to the grocery store.

5. Try these grocery store hacks

  • Bring your own bags (BYOB). It may not be much, but every cent matters!
  • Ask the store manager about their sale cycles.
  • Check unit prices to see what is the best deal. The price label will tell you how much an item cost per ounce, pound, or piece.
  • Buy generic or store brands. Pass on the name-brand items.
  • Buy “must go” and “must sell” items. You will find these in the bakery, meat department, and dairy section.
  • Trade in your fresh vegetables for frozen vegetables. They cost less and will last longer.
  • Without hoarding, purchase staple and pantry items in bulk, especially if they’re on sale: things like pasta, rice, beans, cereal (hot and cold), sugar, flour, corn meal, and canned goods.

6. Have a single-dish meal once a week

7. Try meatless Mondays

8. Redefine dinner

Instead of your dinner standards, you can try a hot breakfast or lunch for dinner.

9. Make leftovers

Re-purpose your leftover dinners for lunch the next day.

10. Partner shop

Shop with someone else from your household, like a roommate or family member. Share the cost and split the groceries.

These tips should put a significant dent in your grocery bill and give you some breathing room. These are also practices you can maintain even when life returns to normal. The money you don’t spend on groceries, you can add to your savings!

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